Graham Kilmer
MKE County

Jackson Park Boathouse To Become Open-Air Pavilion

Boathouse being redesigned as part of MMSD stormwater project in the park.

By - Jan 11th, 2023 05:02 pm
Open-Air pavilion. Rendering from MMSD.

Open-air pavilion. Rendering from MMSD.

The Jackson Park Boathouse will be redeveloped as a pavilion as part of a larger flood mitigation project in the park being undertaken by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD).

The overall project is focused on removing concrete from the Kinnickinnic River bed, dredging the Jackson Park Lagoon to six feet and remaking a number of the park amenities. The sewerage district has been working with parks for the past several years to remove the concrete lining along the Kinnickinnic. In 2020, it removed the lining from the river section running through Pulaski Park.

Jackson Park Boathouse. Photo by Dave Reid.

Jackson Park Boathouse. Photo by Dave Reid.

Under an agreement between Milwaukee County Parks and MMSD, inked in 2020, the sewerage district is overseeing and funding the project. Some major features include new or repaired trailways through the park, reconstruction of the river parkway across the park from W. Forest Home Ave. to 43rd St. and up to $750,000 for a new boathouse.

The plan for the boathouse is to redevelop the structure as an open-air pavilion. This would, according to MMSD, open up views of the lagoon from the north side of the boathouse, which doesn’t face the lagoon; provide additional sheltered space for the farmers market, food trucks, live music and the traveling beer gardens; and would double the rental space for the building.

The pavilion concept would also reduce long-term maintenance costs for the building, MMSD said. The county parks system has a massive deferred maintenance backlog, verging on half a billion dollars worth of projects.

Project design is expected to continue through the rest of 2023, with construction beginning in 2024 and finishing in 2025.

Under the agreement with MMSD, the county will also receive approximately $2.75 million for a new aquatic facility to replace the Jackson Park Pool, which could include a splash pad or another water amenity, according to a report from parks. But this project won’t be undertaken alongside the stormwater and pavilion work. It will be a separate design and construction project.

Flood Management

Concrete lining was added to a number of streams and rivers in the Milwaukee area during the 20th century. The idea was that the linings would carry stormwater out of the channels faster and thus prevent flooding. But as time went on it became evident these channels could often make the flooding worse, and were also dangerous, filling with several feet of rushing water during heavy rainstorms. The concrete also destroyed local fish and wildlife habitats.

The project will remove the concrete from and naturalize more than 2,000 feet of streambed through the park. It will also remove a culvert that currently sends 700 feet of the Kinnickinnic River underground.

Categories: MKE County, Parks, Weekly

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